You May Be Living, but Are You Alive?
Indeed, researchers claim that about 90 percent of North Americans today choose passive activities over active one. This group spends ten times more time at home in activities such as watching television than outside the home pursuing more active leisure activities. Moreover, when people make it our of the home, they aren’t necessarily more activeㅡgiven that, after the home and the workplace, shopping malls are the number-one place where people spend their spare time.
What’s wrong with passive activities? They seldom, if ever, give us the mental highs that conquer boredom. These activities are typified by no challenge, no purpose, low arousal, monotony, and lack of novelty. Although these predictable activities are safe and secure, they provide us with little satisfaction and self-fulfillment.
Recently a group of psychologists separated happiness into two types: fell-good happiness and value-based happiness. Watching a hockey game on TV is fee-good happinessㅡwhich is, unfortunately, ruled by the law of diminishing returns. With timeㅡsometimes in minutes, rarely on more than a matter of hoursㅡthe satisfaction from the activity decreases until it reaches zero.
Value-based happiness, on the other hand, comes from meaningful activities that serve some higher purpose than just plain pleasure. Ultimately, value-based happiness stems from attaining a sense of satisfaction. And that satisfaction is attained from fulfilling some deeper purpose in tune with our values. The activities contributing to value-based happiness are not normally ruled by the law of diminishing returns. If they are, the time to reach zero satisfaction is normally a lot longer than for activities that provide pleasure-based happiness.
Only by being physically, intellectually, and creatively challenged can individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their leisure activities.